February 27, 2013
DOUBLING THEIR PLEASURE
Garber: 2nd MLS team in area will boost Red Bulls, league greatly
By Michael Lewis
Having a second team in the metropolitan area would be the best thing to happen to the Red Bulls and Major League Soccer.
So says MLS commissioner Don Garber.
The league is pushing for a second team in the market -- NY2 -- which would be based at Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Flushing, Queens, if the project is approved by the city and state of New York.
The Red Bulls, one of the original MLS teams, has failed to catch on with area soccer fans despite being around for 18 years. They call 25,000-seat Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J., home. The stadium was filled to only 68 percent capacity for their 17 home games last year. RBA opened in 2010 and was expected to house capacity crowds every game.
"Hopefully this rivalry will allow them to go from the 18,000 they have an average to 25,000 fans on average," Garber said during a Manhattan press conference on Wednesday night. "They have a new manager. New management has come in. They are moving their offices to downtown Manhattan. They are getting focused on engaging the downtown community."
Garber mentioned the unveiling of the new Red Bulls' jersey at Pier 59 Studios on Monday night.
"They had a great event on Monday night," he said. "Unfortunately I missed. That was fantastic and really connected with their fans."
Studies have shown that 60 percent of the Red Bulls' fans come from New Jersey, 40 percent from other states, such as New York, Pennsylvania and Connecticut.
The commissioner noted that when the New York Jets played at Shea Stadium in Flushing, Queens before they moved to the Meadowlands, they had fans come down from Connecticut to watch them play.
"Ultimately, this will make the Red Bulls bigger, better, more popular," Garber said. "Thirteen million people live in this tri-state area. Many of them are from queens who are going out to New Jersey. So I think this rivalry will raise the water level for both of those clubs and make Major League Soccer more popular, more powerful, more influential in New York City. Important market."